When first stepping into the wasteland of Conan Exiles, I had no idea what to expect. The game immediately tosses players into a bleak survival scenario with the player’s character nailed to a cross and left in the desert to die. Players then choose a few basic cosmetic features for their warrior (physique, hair color, endowment, etc.), a race, and a religion. Once this basic step is done, it’s off into the desert with no tutorial, no water, and a world full of hostile players/AI.
At it’s heart, Conan Exiles is about survival, and teaches players through a series of gruesome deaths that it is not an easily attainable goal. While the game allows you to specialize in whatever direction you choose, it quickly becomes apparent that basic survival recipes and shelter are far more important than weaponry early on. Most creatures in Conan Exiles are aggressive and will stalk the player for long distances, striking only after you’ve gathered the last fiber stack you need to craft those sweet pants. Conan Exiles does a lot of teaching through pained moments like this. There is no tutorial, no tool tips, only a barbarian and their wits (or lack thereof). Thankfully, unlike many other games in the survival genre, Conan Exiles has a crafting system that while robust, is also easy to understand. A new player can have a shelter up and running after about twenty minutes, just about the time when the game gets fun.
To help those who are new to the game, I’ve compiled a list of tips that aided my survival for the first few days:
- Build a Bed – Much like in other games, building a bed and sleeping in it will allow the player to change their spawn point. This is important, as upon death on most servers, players will drop their items and be returned to wherever their spawn is, which brings me to my second point.
- Stay Close to Home – At least at first. Materials take a long time to harvest and it can be exceptionally frustrating to lose them upon death and not be able to make your way back. At least when you’re starting out, harvest close to your bed, so that upon death you can recover items from your corpse.
- Pay Attention to the Skill Tree – Spec early on in fields that are going to help you survive the wasteland. Whether it’s other players, angry imps, or crocodiles, almost everything in Conan Exiles wants to kill you at some point. Even the harsh environments can take their toll in the form of starvation and dehydration.
- Learn the Right Recipes – Each time you level, as well as gaining skill points, you gain the ability to learn new recipes. Items like water skins and basic shelter are key to early survival and should be learned immediately. After that, it’s more up to individual playstyle, but even in early access, there’s a lot to build.
- Befriend First, Betray Later – A lot of the appeal for some players in Conan Exiles is going to be finding other players and brutally murdering them, and while this is a key part of the game, it shouldn’t be done immediately. Other players can help you when starting out, or make your life a living hell. It’s always best to make friends when you’re starting out, and go on a rampage only once you’ve built up some defense.
- Pick the Correct Server Type – Conan Exiles has 3 main types of servers: PvE (players fight AI only, not each other), PvP (it’s a free for all, kill everything), and PvP Blitz (it’s a free for all with increased XP generation, and the server resets progress every 30 days). Within these server types there are also subtypes such as Role Playing, Casual, and Hardcore. Make sure to pick your server type wisely, and also remember that server’s name. Your characters are bound to a server in Conan Exiles and each time you join a new server you will have to start from scratch.
Overall, my first few hours with Conan Exiles were enjoyable. The environments are a cut above, gameplay is simple but fun, and the lore is better than most survival games out there. The game still has plenty of bugs (see crocodile warping into my house) and features that are yet to come, but that’s to be expected with early access. If the developers can hold up the promises they made for final gameplay features, Conan Exiles is likely going to stick around for a while. For more information as the early access continues, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe. I’ll also be streaming with each new update on Twitch.TV/Gizorama.